Prosecutors oppose moving US Sen. Menendez's corruption case

AP News
|
Posted: May 27, 2015 9:52 AM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are opposed to moving U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez's corruption case from New Jersey to Washington.

Attorneys for Menendez and co-defendant Salomon Melgen had filed the request this month, arguing virtually none of the 22 counts they're charged with occurred in the state.

In court documents filed Tuesday, prosecutors said Menendez ignores allegations he accepted numerous things of value in New Jersey. They also said his lawyers are based in New York, less than 15 miles from the federal courthouse in Newark, and not in the District of Columbia.

The New Jersey Democrat is charged with accepting gifts and donations totaling about $1 million from the Florida ophthalmologist in exchange for political favors. The gifts included flights aboard a luxury jet and a Paris vacation.

Menendez has said he accepted gifts from Melgen because the two have been close friends for years.

Defense lawyers argued the government began the investigation and grand jury presentation in Florida before moving the case to the state.

The basis for trying the case in New Jersey "appears to be radio communications from the pilot of a plane in New Jersey airspace on which Senator Menendez was a passenger," the defense brief states. "Needless to say, the pilot's cabin and the airport control tower were not the 'nerve center' of the conspiracy alleged in the indictment."

The brief claims the location of the defendants and possible witnesses, the expense to the parties and the location of attorneys and the fact that events at issue took place in Washington are compelling reasons to move the case from New Jersey.

Prosecutors said New Jersey is just as accessible to Florida as it is to D.C.

Melgen has been charged in a separate 76-count indictment in Florida alleging he made false diagnoses and performed unnecessary surgeries that he then billed to Medicare.